More support for Rose for Rodney
The royal commissioners failed the fundamentals.
At the last election, 55% more voters supported Christine Rose for her regional role, than elected the mayor of Rodney.
Even Bill Smith, the lowest-polling regional candidate, polled more votes than the mayor. The Rodney mayor was elected by less than a quarter of the less than half who actually voted—elected by fewer than 11% of eligible voters.
The reason for this grossly undemocratic state of affairs is first-past-the-post. First-past-the-post has long known to produce patently undemocratic results, which is why, in 2001, a new local electoral act provided for preferential voting. Preferential voting, commonly known in Aotearoa as STV (single transferable voting), is as easy to use as 1 2 3—voters literally rank as many candidates as they care to. Inexplicably, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance ignored the heroic work that resulted in the 2001 act, saying it was:
not persuaded that the adoption of this voting system would assist in solving Auckland’s problems.
There was no nation-wide discussion of the need to ditch first-past-the-post in favour of preferential voting for local body elections—the 2001 Local Electoral Act left it to individual councils to initiate, or not. Most, including Rodney, lacked the intellectual interest or rigour to pursue it. A common reaction of folk who don’t know a thing is broken, is to declare it ain’t broke and don’t need fixin’.
Leaving the decision to councils was flawed for another fundamental reason—councils elected under first-past-the-post are by definition those favoured by that deficient system. It is unlikely that a mayor elected by fewer than 11% of eligible voters would vote for an early Christmas. Not surprisingly, few councils have chanced, which points to ineptitude or cynicism in respect to the commissioners’ assurance that:
Auckland Council would not be precluded from changing to an alternative voting system in future, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Electoral Act.
That the region’s governance structures needed improving was self-evident. Sadly the commission’s effort lacked sophistication, as has the government’s implementation of its recommendations.
However the singular failure in this restructuring of regional governance was that of the Labour-led government. An arrogant Labour Party set up a process with no provision for the people to democratically adopt, or otherwise, a new structure.
The people should have been offered a short list of attractive, well-developed models on which to comment, and from which ultimately to choose.
Now, it is down to more-diligent people to make it work. Fortunately, there is one candidate who has the intelligence and collegial qualities to work constructively with her council colleagues.
Māori representation motivation In STV in New Zealand, Stephen W Todd explains that a significant motivation of the Labour-led government in 2000 in introducing preferential voting was to ensure Māori had a direct democratic means of electing representatives to district health boards.